m— Interior dialogues
Shetland’s greatest musical export since Aly Bain‘? Very possibly. if things continue the way they‘ve been going for Astrid Williamson and her bandmates in Goya Dress. Terry de Castro (Minneapolis) and Simon Pearson (Leeds). thinks Alastair Mabbott.
‘When I was a little girl. I couldn‘t play the piano very w ell.’ says Shetland- born Astrid \‘y'illiamson. now the accomplished keyhoard-thumper. guitar—picker and lead vocalist for (Joya Dress. ‘I used to end up playing on the black notes all the time. .-\nd when I look at the piano now. the black notes invariably create dark. tense harmony. So I think l was inclined towards that.‘ Well. now you know.
In the light of the new. John ('ale- produced. debut l.l’. Rooms. it can be seen that the lil’s [la/mum ('qu um and
Ruby were mere tasters ol' (ioya Dress's 7
abilities. lu tact. declares Astrid. it's only since the album‘s been liuished that even people close to the hand have really latched on to what they're about.
‘I just like the idea that every track suggested a room to go into. It’s simple as well. It’s like when people say they’ve got records like Blue or Rumours or Born To Run, they’ve got that iconic feel about them’
To be sure. Rooms is permeated hy the kind of dark. tense harmonies she was talking about a moment ago. bel'ore making short work (it a plate of the Queen Street ()yster Bar‘s eponymous molluscs. but its essence is distilled through a variety of songs. from the skewed lightweight pop of ‘(‘rush' to the psychodramas ot ‘(ircatest Secrct'. ‘Scorch'. the swoonworthy single
Goya Dress come out Nude
that literally is ﬁne. it‘s someone submitting to someone sexually. and they feel really absorbed. But that wasn‘t really the intention. although 1 think it‘s line. became it‘s pan of a rel‘ei‘ence.‘
So the sexual reference is a metaphor tor something clse'.’ ‘.\'o. it's that if any habitual behaviour comes down on you l'ull l'orce then it is glorious for a while. until you have to pay the price. It could he heroin. it could be eating disorders. anything that‘s obsessive. It could he an obsession with another person. because that‘s great tor a while. as well. At lirst. you don‘t have to think about yourself at all. you escape into something that‘s distracting you l‘rom whatever emotional trigger it is that's making you be ohsessiye.'
.-\llhough it gave the albutn its title. ‘Rooms‘ isn't the centrepiece as such. though its title did sum up the feel .-\stl‘l(l wanted to give the record. ‘l just like the idea that every track suggested
she goes down on you . .
i a room to go into. It's simple as well.
‘Gloi‘iotis‘ and ‘Rooms' itsell‘. the latter as the caretaker of a deserted .-\yrshit‘e
being what Tori Amos and Bjork might come up with it they were thrown into a studio with The Blue Nile.
The effect ot‘ a lull album's worth is comparable to waking from an unsettling dream you can only vaguely remember. And. indeed. the lyrics do seem to be set in some symbolic realm a half-step away l‘rom daily life. ‘.-\ lot ol‘ it is metaphorical.‘ she agrees. ‘although I don't ever mind things being taken literally. because most ol‘ the things. il'they were taken literally. could deﬁnitely refer to some kind ol‘ metaphorical meaning anyway.‘ (Later in our conversation. she says. ‘All ol‘ it‘s from direct experience. I could give you names and places.‘) i
‘ll‘ you take something like "Glorious". iu the chorus lyric. "When
It’s like when people say they've got records like Blue or lx’uumurs or Bum 'l'o Run. they‘ve got that iconic feel about them -— according to me.‘
Astrid doesn’t believe in ghosts — and since she once spent eighteen months
castle. it's probably just as well A— but what about the notion that rooms can accumulate negative or positive atmospheres from things that have happened in them'.’ ‘()h. I think the power of the imagination is very prevalent. It you know something about a place. it can really affect how you l'eel. I think there are places that have nice atmospheres and places that don't. but that's created. up to a point. by the people living there.‘
.-\strid reaches tor the Tabasco like a
woman with a mission. ‘Keep going.‘
she grins. ‘I can talk and do oysters at the same time.‘ True. but that’s the least ol her talents.
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